A friend recently asked me, “How do you find out about all the cool stuff you do every weekend?” Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of the same question at work, too: folks seem to like the pictures I post on Facebook and Twitter, whether it’s driving up north for a long weekend or just checking out what’s happening in my own back yard, and they always want to know what the next adventure is. Follow my advice to see how anyone can find cool stuff to do on the weekends.
Plan Your Time
I love Google calendar, and anyone who knows me well can tell you about my borderline obsession with keeping track of how I spend my time. What to me feels like (admittedly aggressive) time management and an exercise in efficiency looks to my friends like an insane diary of where I’ve been, who I was with, what we did, for how long, and maybe even what was said, all organized into a digital timeline going back years.
It also extends into the future.
It takes planning to keep an active calendar full of excellent adventures. I calculate what time I want to wake up on Saturday (or more likely when I’ll probably wake up), the time it takes to get ready, the time I have to set aside for being a real-life person with household chores, and then how long it will take to get where I want to go. Once I have that all laid out, I know how many hours I have left to fill in with what I want to do — and what I can reasonably expect to accomplish in that time.
Technology is Your Friend
My first source of stuff to do is social media. A lot of my schedule is developed weeks or months ahead by simply following through on my invitations. Have you ever clicked “maybe” to an event on Facebook knowing that you would never, ever attend it? I haven’t.
I use event invitations to plan my weekends. When the weekend is drawing near, I’ll put all of my “maybes” onto the calendar, and then prioritize and decide what I want to do. I especially try to figure out what’s possible: if I can hit a festival in the afternoon and then catch a local band that’s playing relatively close by in the evening, then I’ll do both. I don’t mind driving an extra half hour if it means getting to do more. Life’s too short to pass on great opportunities.
Don’t just skip reading those event invitations, or mindlessly RSVP without any intention of following through. A lot of great events are happening, and you’re being invited to them all the time! Getting out of the house and being around people who are doing cool things is a great way to spend your time on the weekends.
On the rare weekends when Sarah and I haven’t planned ahead of time to be somewhere, we have a choice to make. Do we stay inside and catch up on our favorite TV shows, write blog posts, surf articles and videos online and stay in pajamas all day? Or do we scout around ourselves for something cool to do? The best weekends are when the answer is both.
The weekend is two days long. I don’t know about you, but I get bummed out when I sit around and waste my time. Of course, it’s great to take time to order food and be a slob, or else be productive around the house. Trying new recipes, cleaning the fridge, writing stories or beating Zelda aren’t wastes of time, but they do take away from any adventures you might be having instead. Eventually, there comes a point when it’s best to take a shower and see what’s going on in the world outside, or else risk feeling the fleeting moments of my life begin to slip through my grasp.
By then, hopefully I’ll have spent a portion of my afternoon browsing around online, checking out places on Google Maps, seeing what other people are doing on Twitter and Facebook, or tapping into my favorite location based apps to find something different, new or exciting. As a neat alternative to sitting on the computer for another hour, we keep a running list of stuff to do in our area, or at most a short drive away: parks we keep meaning to explore or restaurants we’ve been hankering to try before they go under and disappear.
Don’t Put Things Off
Something better is not coming along. How many times have you driven by a road sign or an abandoned diner or a unique shop or a roadside scenic view that briefly captured your attention, and you said to yourself, “I’ll have to come back to check that out someday.” How many times have you followed through?
John Fogerty knew what he was talking about when he said, “Someday never comes.” I try to take the opportunity to stop and create a little adventure by scratching that curious itch whenever it pops up. It’s not going very far out of my way to pull over for a few minutes to read that historical marker, take a picture or two, and hop back in the car. Maybe I’ll discover a trail nearby, and exploring it for a few minutes becomes another adventure in itself. Or maybe just getting out of the car for a stretch and a photo-op was all I needed, and nothing more comes of it. At least I looked into it and didn’t leave myself wondering what could have been.
In the End…
It helps to know in advance what you like to do.
We’re into the kitschy, the quirky; the old, the historic, and the ancient; we’re into roadside stands and roadside people; we like parks with a purpose, and parks without purpose; we’re into an interesting drive as much as an interesting destination, a walking tour as much as a hike off the grid; we like creative types; one-off events, obscure annual gatherings like cranberry festivals and zombie conventions; and annual traditions that get better every year; we’re into food: good food and bad-for-you food, bar food and diner food and weird food and local food — we want to know what your town serves best and we want to try every place off Main Street until we find the best one. We’re into adventure, and we’re into making adventure when there hasn’t been one packaged and delivered to us. Knowing these things about ourselves makes it easy to find cool stuff to do on the weekends.